Couples therapy is a talking therapy in which a Psychologist will work with individuals that are in a romantic relationship. The therapy itself allows you to identify the negative behaviours or patterns which can then be changed to improve your relationship. It provides both you and your partner with the space to talk about and explore the problems that you are both facing. The goal of couples therapy is to help you and your partner gain a better understanding of each other as well as aid in resolving the issue that you came to the session with.
During the therapy, both you and your partner can gain an insight into your relationship, resolve conflict, and improve the level of satisfaction with the relationship using a variety of therapeutic interventions. The specific behavioural relationship techniques used within the therapy session often depends on the therapist themselves. However, they all involve the elements below:
Much like individual therapies, couples therapy can be offered both in-person and online. The format which you choose depends on the availability that you have for the sessions – for example if you are both working it may be easier and/or more convenient for you to have the sessions online instead of travelling to and from the sessions. However, if you prefer to have the sessions in-person for any range of reasons, that is also available. The format which you use (online or in-person) depends on what you believe would work best for both you and your partner, and allows you to be more open and honest when it comes to explaining your emotions etc.
What to Expect in Couples Therapy:
If you are considering going to couples therapy but are unsure as to what to expect from the sessions, this section will break down the process to give you an insight into what it would be like to attend couples therapy.
Most initial sessions with your therapist start off with standard interview-style questions about the history of your relationship. Through these questions both of you may be encouraged to investigate each other’s values, beliefs, and cultural background as these can often influence a person’s outlook on certain topics and behaviours.
Also, in your initial session you will be asked to identify the reason for coming to therapy. This should help to agree on an area that will be the focus of the therapy sessions. This creates a way to establish treatment goals that you and your partner would like to achieve in the sessions.
Throughout the course of your sessions, your therapist will help both you and your partner to gain an insight and understanding of what may be causing the problem(s) in your relationship. They will help to guide both you and your partner to understand the roles that you both may play in the interactions that you have with one another. This insight and understanding into your relationship issues may then help you to change how you view both the relationship as a whole and each other as individuals.
Another critical aspect of couples therapy is changing behaviours and maintaining this change. As a result, your couple’s therapist will often assign you and your partner homework to do outside the sessions, when you are at home. This will help you to apply the skills and implement strategies that you learn from the sessions into your daily interactions with one another. This may then help you to change and improve your relationship, whether it be through communicating better or understanding each other, based on the things you learned in couple’s therapy.
Some of these tasks given may include you taking part in exercises such as “trust falls” with your partner to show your trust and to increase the levels of trust you both have. You may also be asked to carry out honesty or intimacy exercises such as maintaining eye contact for a certain period or holding hands. These are designed to make you feel more comfortable and at ease with your partner and help you become more comfortable with showing affection and being intimate with your significant other. You may also be asked or encouraged to write down things you appreciate about your partner to revive your positive feelings about them and your relationship.
Why go to Couples Therapy?
Being in an intimate or romantic relationship, although wonderful, can be difficult at times and require a lot of work. Many couples go through a rough patch, when neither of them are getting what they want or need from the relationship. Difficulties can also be triggered by external factors such as issues surrounding money or troubles at work. There can also be changes to the dynamic of the relationship after a child is born or leaves home, or when elderly family members need help and /or support or pass away. These changes may also lead to difficulties within the relationship. Couples may be able to resolve and get through these difficult times on their own, but the whole process can be made a lot smoother by seeking help through couples therapy before the difficult issues get out of hand.
If you are in a relationship that is experiencing a difficult phase, it might be a good idea to enquire about couples therapy and think about whether it would be helpful to your situation. Couples therapy can help to resolve current problems that you may be facing in your relationship, prevent problems from worsening, or can even be used as a “check-up” for you and your partner if you are experiencing increased stress due to a transition period. There are a variety of difficulties that are often addressed through couples therapy.
Some of the common ones include:
- Parenting (disagreements around how to parent etc.)
- Substance abuse
- Emotional distance
- Chronic health issues
- Frequent conflict
Benefits of Couples Therapy and How It Can Help You:
Communication is often viewed as the foundation of any/all good relations that you may have. However, discrepancies often occur when what you think you are saying is interpreted in a different way by your partner. This then can lead to arguments or heated situations where both parties think they are right but also feel unheard by the other. In couples therapy sessions, you are encouraged to be mindful of the language that you use with one another to avoid triggering any arguments. One of the main ways in which this is achieved is through using “I” instead of “you”. By using “I”, it allows you to take responsibility of your emotions and feelings in a neutral way, expressing yourself to your partner without making them become defensive. An example of this could be “when x happens it makes me feel x. Can we find a different way to do x?”. This type of communication is also known as non-violent communication, and although it may feel awkward to begin with, with practice it will become a natural part of how you and your partner communicate.
Understanding Each Other:
Having a deep understanding of one another to be able to meet the core needs of your partner is an essential part of any relationship. Relationships are a continuous learning curve where you get to know more about each other, so it would be unrealistic to expect to know every detail about your partner and vice versa. However, this can sometimes be where people stumble as they are either unsure of how to approach and be interested in their partner (and their interests) or are unsure as to how they should open up about themselves. Getting to know your partner within a therapeutic setting may provide you with a safe and neutral environment to do so. It also encourages you both to be honest with each other without the fear of judgement. One of the ways that is short but effective in creating this understanding between you both is through drawing and understanding your partner’s love map. This map covers their wishes, worries, dreams and motivators etc., and through getting to know this information about one another, it helps you to become more understanding of and empathise more with your partner’s wants and needs.
In cases where trust has been broken within a relationship, attending couples therapy can help to facilitate the rebuilding of trust in a neutral environment. For example, if you are struggling with betrayal, your therapist may help guide you towards re-establishing your connection and trust with your partner. This process often requires full disclosure of the event(s) from both sides, even when there is an obvious person in the wrong, gaining an insight into both sides of the story is needed to help rationalise what happened. Both of you will be encouraged to express your thoughts and feelings. As you move forward, to help rebuild the trust in the relationship you will make agreements as to what to expect from each other. The final stage to help rebuild trust is through forgiveness, which can be offered and accepted instantaneously, but takes time to heal. This creates a foundation for you both to be fully transparent with each other about things, big or small, moving forward.
Couples therapy may help you to improve your communication, understanding and (levels of) trust that you have of one another. As a result of this, you may feel yourselves leaving the sessions with a renewed bond with one another. This may then help you to feel as though you have a stronger bond and feel as though you can take on any challenge that comes your way as a couple due to the support that you have from each other. Many couples seek therapy at breaking-point, and it can be helpful in that situation, although it is best if you attend as soon as possible. This would enable you make lasting changes in the relationship.
How to Book a Couple’s Therapy Session:
To enquire about a couple’s therapy session, you can visit the website (www.themindremedy.co.uk) and book a free 15-minute chat with our Couples Psychologist. You can also email us on email@example.com, or get in touch through WhatsApp message at 07931903310 to talk to a Psychologist about couples therapy.